Megan Thee Stallion has been such a commanding presence in rap for the past two years it can be hard to remember that Good News is actually her debut full-length album. The 25-year-old Houston MC has always rhymed with such assurance that no matter when you first heard her “real hot girl shit”–when she was gathering buzz with her indie mixtapes, when she was celebrating “Hot Girl Summer” in 2019, when she and Cardi B encouraged a quarantined nation to release all their pent-up sexual energy with “W.A.P.”–you felt like you were late to the party.
Megan was even savvy enough to use her own personal misfortune as an opportunity to broaden her message. This summer, after she told the world that R&B star Tory Lanez had shot her in the foot, social media responded with dismissive, misogynist snark, and Lanez himself tried to discredit her on a mixtape. But in a sharp stroke that tied an assertion of her own self-worth in with righteous social commentary, Megan performed on SNL in front of a sign that read “Protect Black Women” and called out the Attorney General of Kentucky for refusing to prosecute the police who killed Breonna Taylor. She followed this up with an op/ed in the New York Times about how violence against Black women is consistently downplayed and ignored in America.
But Good News is hardly a pivot to socially conscious rap. Megan does once more call for justice for Taylor on the opening track, “Shots Fired,” which also claps back at Lanez for his petty swipes against her. But her smackdown of Lanez feels almost incidental to the broader claim being made here–when she rhymes over the instrumental hook from The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Who Shot Ya?” Meg implicitly asserts that she’s entitled to rewrite rap history in her own curvaceous image.
Such a stance is nothing new for the rapper who already effortlessly inserted herself into badass rap classics from NWA (“Girls in the Hood,” included here) and Tupac (“B.I.T.C.H.,” from her spring 2020 EP Suga). Meg adopts male rap’s bragadocious pride with a breezy nonchalance as she expands on her three timeless themes–men ain’t shit (but big dicks have their uses), her pussy is unrivalled, and her ass is peerless–in rhymes as expansive as “If I wasn’t me and I would’ve seen myself, I would have bought me a drink/Took me home, did me long, ate it with the panties on.”
Good News does contain some effective features from male MCs, with Young Thug and DaBaby (who pays homage to Meg’s posterior majesty with the line “NBA playoffs that ass–a bubble”) the most successful. Women do generally complement Meg’s style better though. She blends seamlessly with those horny Miami mercenaries City Girls on “Do It On the Dick,” and on “Savage Remix” Beyonce shows herself the only guest whose flow rivals Meg’s own.
If Megan’s presence and delivery never feels less than assured, a few of the production choices on Good News seem apprehensive, as if questioning the rapper’s ability to hold down a full commercial album on her own. The most glaring attempt at novelty is “Intercourse,” a DJ Mustard production that requires Jamaican singer Popcaan to attempt to endow the cold shower of a phrase “sexual intercourse” with some semblance of sensuality.
If the sung choruses here sometimes feel grafted on, that’s because, as every rear that hoisted itself skyward to “W.A.P” will attest, Megan’s own flow is musical enough to offer its own hooks without outside ornamentation. A track like “Body” shows Megan’s pop strengths as she stretches the title into a stream of ody-ody-odys so bouncy you can practically see booties popping to the beat. The mainstream audience that Good News already fully primed to accept Meg as she is– “classy, bougie, ratchet”–because Meg already contains multitudes.